I am a politically conscious painter, sculptor, instrument builder and performance artist. Influenced by the folk aesthetic and history of the American South, I appropriate, manipulate, and re-purpose the material that surrounds me to create time-based works in performance, video and sound. As my alter ego of my youth “Ninnie,” I became a roving folk artist and singer, sharing tales of my travels and life in my native Kentucky and hailed as the “Post-Modern Minnie Pearl” and a “Countrified Laurie Anderson.” My current alter ego “I-Cing”, is my middle-aged persona whom reflects on her solar diaries in video musicals.
Over the past thirty years, I have been actively sharing my work on local, national and international platforms with the desire to reach new audiences and bring them to a more informed understanding of the human experience. By embracing, synthesizing, and re-contextualizing the local and the vernacular, I hope to open up new and unexpected meanings and, in so doing, express something universal.
At the core of my artistic practice is a concern with identity and its mutability. For me, art is a means to disrupt “normalized” ideas and raise questions about the world that surrounds us. How we perceive the past is influenced by the context in which we live today, and art is the vehicle through which we can critically engage with those histories and engender change.
As a feminist artist, I am interested in history and human endeavor as it is related through folk art and country traditions as preserved through female voices. In my practice, I study gendered technology and explore women’s suffrage through amplification. This study takes on a deep and ambitious understanding of cultural studies.
In my sculptural works, I employ found materials that I combine and reconfigure, often into hybrid instruments such as three-stringed “dulcimer-esque banjos” made from small traveling cases and tennis racquets. These objects go beyond their musical and symbolic roles in Ninnie’s and I-Cing’s performances to take on lives of their own as “folk art-like” sculptures that reflect variously on themes of light, pattern, play and human organization.
Over the past two decades, I have been privileged to exhibit and perform extensively in the USA, Europe, and Asia. In 2017, I received an Artist Enrichment Grant from the Kentucky Foundation for Women for the production of eight paintings, a kinetic and sonic sculpture and the recording of eight songs written on a 2010 tour with Nongrata. Each art song is an in-the-moment style of writing that corresponds to the name of the European city in which it was performed. The eight paintings were included in “Spin: Turning Records into Art,” a group show at KMAC in spring 2018.
After the pandemic I exhibited 6 large paintings in a solo show, "Mystic Heart", at KMAC, Louisville, Kentucky. One of these paintings "Lyricism:=I Cry Slim" was purchased by Al Shands. In 2023 it showed at The Speed Museum, as part of “Rounding The Circle: The Mary and AL Shands Collection”.